The FEC made an under-the-radar move that campaign finance experts say opens a huge loophole giving corporations more power
A ruling last week by the Federal Election Commission related to Microsoft and security software it wants to offer free of charge to political candidates and parties could have massive implications, creating a loophole that allows corporations to skirt campaign-finance laws, experts say. In a 4-0 decision, the FEC ruled that Microsoft can provide federal candidates and national party committees with free election security services after the company sought an advisory opinion from the commission last month.
Microsoft said it was offering its AccountGuard service on a nonpartisan basis to candidates, party committees, and some nonprofit groups free of charge. The FEC concluded that Microsoft's offering of the service for free to such candidates and groups wouldn't constitute an illegal in-kind donation since AccountGuard was not being offered for political purposes.
Adav Noti, an attorney at the Campaign Legal Center and a former associate general counsel at the FEC, told Roll Call that the FEC's rationale opens the door for any corporation to "give anything to a candidate" because any such contribution could be defended as being done in the name of "business reasons."
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